While nowadays nearly all wine is crushed using commercial equipment, there’s still a definite charm of manual grape stomping. Luckily, there are still plenty of places where you can give it a try. So, let’s take a look at five regions to visit for an amazing wine cruise and grape stomping adventure.
What is grape stomping?
The art of grape stomping is exactly what it sounds like – crushing wine grapes by stomping on them with your feet- so as to release their juice and begin the wine making process.
Although it might make you raise an eyebrow the first time you hear it, it’s a tried and tested method for crushing grapes. Plus, many modern experts continue to argue that it leads to a smoother flavor, and gets fermentation underway faster than other methods.
Nowadays, most grape stomping festivals are more for fun than they are for creating mass quantities of wine. Still, it’s an amazing experience that’s unlike any other.
Best regions for a grape stomping adventure
Are you ready to feel those grapes beneath your toes? Let’s take a look at the best regions for grape stomping:
Looking for somewhere to do some grape stomping in the US of A? You’re in luck!
Sonoma County, California
Northern California’s largest wine producing region is a great place to go if you want to try your hand (or feet) at some grape stomping.
Every year, the county plays host to a festival known as the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival. Celebrating the beginning of the harvest, this fun-filled festival includes many different wine-themed events and activities.
Our favorite is definitely the wine stomping. Now, this is no “just for fun” wine stomp – it’s actually a competition, and there’s a prize for the winning pair who manage to stomp the most grapes. Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned pro – there’s still bound to be plenty of laughter and smiles as you crush those grapes.
There’s even a youth competition so you can get the kids started early!
The festival is held annually in September, and there are lots of other fun activities to try. Many revolve around wine, but there are also some unique options like a family-friendly fun run.
Finger Lakes District, New York
On the other side of the country, grape stomping is a time tested tradition around Upper New York State’s premier wine region of the Finger Lakes. It’s even spread to nearby regions, such as the Niagara Wine Trail.
Harvest arrives around October, and is celebrated with an appropriate level of enthusiasm. Many of the wineries in the region host fun family-friendly events and activities, including many where you can give grape stomping a go.
One of the most famous festivals is at Hunt Country Vineyards. Every year around October, the vineyard puts on a fabulous festival complete with amazing food, wine, and music. It is, however, arguably the grape stomping that’s got everyone the most excited.
Keep an eye on their website for the latest dates, and get ready to have a stomping good time in the beautiful Finger Lakes.
Although grape stomping is rarer these days, you can still find opportunities during the vendemmia (harvest) in this beautiful European country.
The region of Tuscany is always beautiful, but it’s especially so during the vendemmia when the grapes are harvested. This typically occurs around late September/early October, and coincides with lots of festivities.
Nowadays, grape stomping is not used as part of the usual production process in most Italian vineyards, but there are still places where you can give it a try. Many vineyards will happily sell you some grapes for the “DIY” experience, and many tours will include a stop for a spot of grape stomping.
Keep an eye out for festivals, too, as they are known to spring up. The town of Gambassi has previously played host to a large grape stomping fest, and although it seems to have been a once-off, we’re sure others will follow suit soon!
The French even have their own word for grape crushing – that’s pigeage, in case you’re wondering! Clearly, it’s a fabulous place to try this practice for yourself.
One of the most beloved France wine regions is the perfect place to enjoy a little bit of grape stomping. What could be more amusing than feeling the grapes squishing underneath your feet as you take in the breathtakingly beautiful views of southern France?
Like much of the world, Provence doesn’t really use grape stomping in real production (at least on a significant, massive scale), but there are a number of events and vineyards where you can give it a go.
One of these places is the beautiful Les Pastras winery, owned by a French-American couple who are passionate about bringing joy through the art of winemaking. Here, you can give grape stomping a go in antique wine barrels.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing French cuisine, and a glass of wine, of course.
Stunning New Zealand, known for its gorgeous mountain ranges and valleys, is an ideal place to give grape stomping a go.
Auckland, North Island
Grape stomping doesn’t get much more scenic than in spectacular New Zealand, where you can crush grapes amongst some of the world’s most breathtaking panoramic views.
There are a few places where you can give grape stomping a go, but one of the most renowned is the Berba Croatian Harvest Festival at Soljan Winery. A Croatian-inspired wine festival in the heart of New Zealand? Now that’s a unique way to enjoy grape crushing!
The festival continues to grow year after year, as more people visit to enjoy the many events and attractions present. There’s great food and wine, entertainment for the entire family, and of course, daily grape stomping that’s sure to elicit plenty of laughs.
It’s usually held in June each year and it’s totally free – so why not check it out?